Learning to Live in the Moment In Buenos Aires
By Steven Levy
I know myself pretty well. I know that I am sentimental about the past and that I am a planner for the future. That said, I also know that I want to be the type of person that takes advantage of each minute in life. While I have yet to master the art of “living in the moment”, I have improved a lot over the past 4 months living in Buenos Aires.
It’s easy to live in the moment in the big events: the hiking in Patagonia, the kayaking in the mountains, the winery tour in Mendoza and the home-away-from-home Thanksgiving dinner. The challenge is in the little stuff – the grocery shopping, the walk to work, the cleaning of my room. So, to start living in the moment in little ways, I focus my mind on all the wonderful things that I get to experience day to day in Buenos Aires. Here are a few examples of those day-to-day moments that I especially appreciate as I live in the moment here in Buenos Aires:
1. There is incredible produce here in Buenos Aires. I love love love produce – its probably 80% of what I eat. There is a fruit and vegetable stand about two blocks from my house run by two Peruvian guys. Twice a week they greet me and silently laugh to themselves as I ask for more and more produce. I’m pretty sure they think I feed a family of five with the amount of food I buy from them. At the end they give me the total: 150 pesos. About $11. For three bags of produce that make me waddle home because they’re so heavy. Heavenly.
2. Speaking Spanish makes me feel so powerful. It makes me feel capable, worthy and special. Every day I feel myself improving. I remember a phrase and use it in a casual conversation – to my companion it’s just another saying, but to me it’s a huge success. An Argentine asks me if I’m actually from the States, because my accent is almost nonexistent. I can express certain feelings and jokes in a way that is impossible in English. It’s like a secret code and I’m in on the secret!
3. There are always new and exciting restaurants to explore! The local Argentine cuisine is rustic, rich and abundant. It is a type of cuisine that I had yet to experience before arriving in Buenos Aires. But in addition to the cultural Argentine food, the city of Buenos Aires offers numerous options from gourmet Asian restaurants to chic vegan cafes. There is also a unique type of restaurant here called “Puerta Cerrada”, which is when a chef invites 10 people into their home for a fully cooked meal. The only struggle is trying to figure out how to try all of them, while still going back to the ones you love!!
4. The history in Buenos Aires fascinates me! It is extremely different from what I learned in high school. I for the most part learned United States history, but pick any other area of the world and my knowledge is rusty. So getting introduced to the history of Argentina and Buenos Aires opens up a massive door to a whole side of history that I never knew about. Also, this particular period in time in Argentina is extremely historic. The government has just changed regimes for the first time in 12 years, with hope and optimism for the future. I’m a part of that, however little I am, and I learn more every day.
5. This is a time in my life in which I have the unusual opportunity to focus on me. I’m excited for my future, but it is likely that when I have a stressful job and kids and extended family to think about, the focus will rarely be on me. This year, I have in a new place to really become comfortable with myself, learn about myself and grow in new ways. I am exploring who I am and who I want to be. This time is invaluable, and it would be impossible for me to do that type of exploring in any other way in any other place than Buenos Aires.
Those are just a few of my favorite Buenos Aires, day-to-day experiences. While I miss my safe network of friends and family back home, I know that where I am now is happy. It is new. It is an adventure. I wake up each morning and try to live in that day, experience that day, and remember that day, because one day, I’m going to be back in New England grocery shopping or cleaning my room and thinking, “Man, I wish I was back in Argentina.”
Dog-walkers are another HUGE “live in the little moment” thing for me – it always reminds me that I’m in Buenos Aires when I’m walking home from work or the gym to see someone walking 10 dogs at once!